2021 • ROCK • WARNER
Leaving perfectionism aside, Royal Blood’s third album, Typhoons, arrives with free yet lost songs.
In January 2019, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher traveled to Los Angeles to work with Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age’s lead vocalist, at his studio, the Pink Duck. But, more than just recording songs, this trip also made two changes in Kerr and Thatcher’s lives. Firstly, Kerr stopped drinking after headed to Vegas, where he realized the effects of the drink on his life. “I could see I was bored of my complaints about myself. I had a very clear moment of ‘Something’s got to change.’,” he told Apple Music. Then, he and Thatcher were encouraged by Homme to worry less about perfection and explore new possibilities. Typhoons is the album that comes out after these changes and, although still needs some work, is the first step for a better future.
When Royal Blood gave up entirely on the perfectionism that they focused on throughout their career to build Typhoons, they delivered freer yet lost songs. Simultaneously, the songs on the Brighton duo’s third album sound less like something calculated and more personal, however, they often seem to be lost in the world, begging for someone to pay a little attention to them. Although most of them sound almost identical, this fact doesn’t become a big deal since they are still good and rarely become dull, saturated, or exaggerated. Putting all their efforts on the strings and singing lyrics that are not bad, but also not good, the duo delivers a nice and satisfactory project.
Typhoons’ highest point is the strings arrangement. Throughout the entire record, within the instrumentation, the strings are the ones that really stand out. Even though they don’t have a wide range, they can still tell the message of the feeling or mood of the track and the lyrics. In the opener, “Trouble’s Coming,” they sing about dealing with the truth of themselves. Kerr sings, “In my reflection, I see signs of psychosis/I try to pay them no attention/Can’t keep them under the surface.” But, the most charming part of the track is the guitar, which is played in this stripped-down and marked way, working around a different rhythm. Meanwhile, “Typhoons” features a darker and sober atmosphere, “Who Needs Friends” has some nice synthetics, and “Million and One,” despite its lack of climax, counts with a good progression and interesting lyrics. For last, in “Oblivion” they don’t seem to follow a trend of more screaming vocals and deliver a better-dosed track, but that still could have had it in the end, instead of ending more quietly.
However, the more you go deep into the album, the more it sounds boring. After “Limbo,” Typhoons loses its ways and starts to deliver more redundant and dull tracks. “Limbo,” for example, has some nice synthesizers and layered vocals, however, sounds much longer than it should and its climax is lukewarm. Next, “Either You Want It” is the most boring and tiring song on the album due to the failed instrumentation experimentation and the cringe lyrics. “Boilermaker,” in its turn, sounds like it was almost six-minute-long, and “Mad Visions” is really, really repetitive.
But, on the last two tracks, they show something a little bit better. “Hold On” features lighter and more positive energy, alongside some good lines. “’Cause you gotta hold on/I know you’re tired bein’ so strong/But you don’t know what you got till it’s gone/So don’t give up, don’t let go,” Keer sings on the hook, which is fun. The closer, “All We Have Is Now,” in its turn, is the most different, honest, and emotional track on the album. Leaving aside chorus, the track is like poetry about advice that everybody should follow. Kerr starts, “If nothin’ lasts forever/And no one makes it out alive/I wanna spend our lives together.” He finishes later, “Have no fear/’Cause you got me/And I got you/Right here.” Meanwhile, a piano, reminiscent of Beyoncé or Coldplay, plays in the background, building this beautiful closing act. Indeed, it’s a shame that we don’t have more of it around Typhoons.